Report: Pac-12 could loan nearly $1B to athletic departments if football is canceled

The college football season is very much in question as COVID-19 continues to heavily impact the country, and one conference has reportedly developed a plan to help its athletic departments if the entire season is canceled.

According to the Mercury News, the Pac-12 has developed a loan program that would bail out its cash-strapped athletic programs if COVID-19 cancels the college football season. This program would reportedly loan each Pac-12 school up to $83 million to cover their losses for the 2020 season. If every school took advantage at the maximum amount, the Pac-12 would be loaning its schools nearly $1 billion. The loans would be repaid at 3.75 percent over 10 years.

Loan program could save jobs, sports

Pac-12 football programs, like many around the country, provide the majority of revenue for their athletic departments. If football is shuttered for the season, that would leave those departments devastated. For example, Oregon State gets $80 million a year from football, which is 80 percent of the department’s annual revenue.

The PAC-12 logo on a football field.
The PAC-12 has reportedly devised a loan program to help its athletic departments if football is canceled. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)

A loan of over $80 million could prevent some athletic departments from eliminating staff and Olympic sports due to budget cuts, and they wouldn’t have to depend on their schools to bail them out. That’s vital, since some schools might not have the ability to do that. Colleges and universities are already facing shortfalls due to online learning, with students taking classes from home and not using campus housing or dining facilities.

One billion dollars is a massive amount, even to save jobs, scholarships and sports, but the Pac-12 has it. Their four-year media rights deal with ESPN and Fox is worth $1.2 billion, and would still be worth over $900 million if there’s no football in 2020. Plus, sources told the Mercury News that not all schools would take the maximum number, and some might not participate in the program at all.

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